More Bombast …

April 2, 2009 was one of Europe’s busiest days since D-Day, some 65 years ago. Thankfully though, it was all bombast this time instead of bomb blast.

Most of the noise was confined to London where the G-20 Summit meeting is taking place, and so far, that’s all it is. Noise. Here are some of the sounds:

• The U.S., Britain and Japan are pushing for more bailout programs with a touch of financial regulation operating mostly within national borders.
• Germany, France and the Czech Republic are pushing in the opposite direction. Instead of wasting more taxpayers’ money on stimulus programs and bailouts, this bloc proposes a “global regulator” that will have the power to deal with international financial firms inside the borders of the U.S. and other large nations. The kiss-of-death for Wall Street wolves.
• China, Russia and a few others are sitting on the fence, quite ready, willing and able to cash in on whatever strategies are decided upon by this illustrious gathering.

And which of these strategies will these leaders finally reveal to an anxious world? As one observer put it, if tradition holds, the major differences will likely be smoothed out in the ambiguous wording of a final communique that each country interprets differently. [Eat your heart out, Vatican II.]

Americans should be concerned with President Obama’s statements, however, rather than hazy and hastily-issued political communiques. When first arriving in London, Mr. Obama conceded that the U.S. had “some accounting to do” for failures that led to the world’s financial meltdown, but he brushed aside heavy pressure from Germany and France to accept global financial regulations, even after admitting that regulatory failures in the U.S. contributed to the crisis.

So much for muzzling the wolves on Wall Street, but that wasn’t a surprise. A disappointment maybe, but after the bailout and bonus debacles it was more like a gimme, rather than a surprise.

What did surprise us was hearing Mr. Obama caution his audience that the U.S. was unlikely to return to its role as a “voracious consumer market”, and instead he urged other nations to do more to revive growth in their home markets.

What he and his advisors have yet to grasp is the fact that since the earlier Great Depression the “voracious consumer market” within the U.S. has become the very foundation of the world’s economic growth and development. Employed consumers within the U.S. – Atlas-like figures, if you will – have carried the world on its shoulders since the bailout days of World War II. Slowly but surely, not suddenly, growing numbers of unemployed have drained us of our economic muscle, and as we began to falter the world’s economies began to teeter. A school kid could figure that out.

Isn’t it about time Obama’s gurus reviewed the U.S. shipbuilding program that ended both WW II and the first Great Depression? Is that too much to expect of the new administration?